The Man Who Saved Britain – Simon Winder

Don't judge a book by its cover

Don't judge a book by its cover

Unfortunately I am guilty of judging this book by its cover. Upon seeing it in the bookstore, I said, “James Bond? Sociological commentary? SWEET!” I mean look at it; Suave Bond holding his PP7, fresh from target practice with a sexy woman in heat at his feat? Now that’s why I got that tat!

What started out as excitement about reading another book about the character of James Bond and his impact on the British culture, quickly turned into boredom. While there is nothing wrong with Simon Winder’s British writing style, tone or thesis focus, I just found the book dry and long-winded at times. I expected an analysis of Ian Fleming’s famous fictional (yet semi-autobiographical character) and his effect on his home nation. What I got was a long history of Britain and its struggled interspersed with book and movie plot summaries along with the occasional personal anecdote.

It is an interesting idea to look at a country’s history through the creation of one of its most famous creations. Winder is successful in his conclusions but I find myself not really caring. I am a huge Bond fan and am usually eager to learn more about his character and cultural impacts but this book is more about England and its evolution framed through Bond’s exploits.

The Man Who Saved Britain is a solid, factual book filled with interesting arguments. If you can tolerate British humor and long stretches of dense prose, check out this work of non-fiction but don’t feel it should be high priority on your summer reading list.

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